Since last month’s update on the subject of mandatory judicial retirement age changes there’s been several developments. The biggest stumbling block: which judges should get the increase in the age?
The Senate approved 47-0 a plan (SB 847) to increase the mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 73 (original bill called for 75) on March 24. The Senate plan would have applied to all judges after adoption of the amendment. The House, however, had various ideas on how this would impact current judges. The House Judiciary Committee approved amendment 172916/1 which would have allowed any judge that
reaches the age of seventy years before the date that the judge is eligible to be elected, appointed, or reappointed
to stay on to 73 or the end of their current term with the consent of the governor. A later floor amendment (393229/1) added the word “re-elected”
reaches the age of seventy years before the date that the judge is eligible to be elected, re-elected, appointed, or reappointed
The changes occurred on April 9, just days before the legislature adjourned sine die. As a result, the effort failed this year.
The judges of Massachusetts only fell under the state’s mandatory judicial retirement age in the 1970s (Amendment LVII adopted in 1972)
[U]pon attaining seventy years of age said judges shall be retired.
Starting in 2009 there have been efforts to increase this age to 76. The first two attempts (HB 1640 of 2009/2010 & HB 1826 of 2011/2012) were approved by the Joint Committee on the Judiciary but proceeded no further. HB 68 of 2013/2014 saw rejection by the committee. The bill is now back up as HB 1609 of 2015/2016 and was heard before the Joint Committee on April 15.
The House approved 116-0 on March 25 a bill that would provide a minimal extension to the state’s judicial retirement age. Currently judges must retire on the last day of the month in which they reach 72. Under HB 50 as approved they may serve last day of the year they reach 72.
A counter proposal (HB 205) to extend this to the last day of the year they reach 75. Was approved by the House Judiciary IV committee on March 18 but has remained in locked up in the House Pensions and Retirement committee.
On April 15 the Oregon Senate approved 30-0 a plan to eliminate the state’s mandatory retirement age or, to be more precise, repeal the state constitutional provision allowing the legislature to set such an age. SJR 4 would eliminate language from the state constitution that
[A] judge of any court shall retire from judicial office at the end of the calendar year in which he attains the age of 75 years. The Legislative Assembly or the people may by law: Fix a lesser age for mandatory retirement not earlier than the end of the calendar year in which the judge attains the age of 70 years.
The constitutional amendment is now pending on the House Speaker’s desk awaiting committee assignment.
After 9 years of trying, a plan to increase the retirement age for at least some judges in Virginia passed the House and Senate, but the decision to increase for some judges and not others may result in a veto by the governor.
At issue under HB 1984 and SB 1196 was what judges should get the increase from 70 to 73. The House/Senate compromise approved provided that
- all appellate judges effective July 1, 2015 would get the increase to 73
- trial judges elected or appointed after July 1, 2015 would get the increase to 73
- trial judges elected or appointed prior to July 1, 2015 would still have to retire at 70
The governor, however, issued a “recommendation” to eliminate the three-tired plan (Virginia governors can return a bill without a veto to the legislature “with recommendations for their amendment“). The Senate voted in favor of eliminating the three-tired plan 31-8. The House rejected it 27-63. Local media reports indicate the unamended bill will now go back to the Governor as early as today (Friday) for him to sign or veto.
Continue reading Changes to mandatory judicial retirement ages: Virginia plan may fall apart over what judges get the increase; Oregon Senate unanimously approves repeal; dead in Maryland; small change moving in North Carolina; debated in Massachusetts